Ex-Alta 1: University of Alberta's first CubeSat

Thanks to funding from the Canadian Space Agency, students from the University of Alberta have built a CubeSat as part of the international QB50 mission.

The CubeSat, named Ex-Alta 1, will collect information on space weather with the help of a miniaturized version of a science instrument called a magnetometer, an essential tool for studying solar storms.

What is the QB50 Mission?

QB50 is an international space mission funded by the European Commission. It provides a unique, hands-on experience to university students around the world. Each team is responsible for designing, building and operating a CubeSat, allowing the team members to acquire new skills in space science and technology, as well as abilities like how to communicate science.

Launch into space

Ex-Alta 1 was successfully deployed into space from the International Space Station on May 26, 2017, at 8:55 GMT. The CubeSat is now orbiting the Earth. Once all required testing is completed, it will be commissioned to fulfill its scientific mission. The location of Ex-Alta 1 can be tracked live at any time.

Successful launch of Ex-Alta 1, University of Alberta's CubeSat, from the International Space Station

Successful launch of Ex-Alta 1, University of Alberta's CubeSat, from the International Space Station. (Credits: Canadian Space Agency, NASA)

Digital simulation and animation

Digital simulation of Ex-Alta 1's deployment in low-Earth orbit. (Credit: Andy Kale, University of Alberta)

This animation shows Ex-Alta 1's components. (Credit: Andy Kale, University of Alberta)

A dedicated team

The Ex-Alta 1 CubeSat is made up of three units and is about the size of a loaf of bread. It is the result of seven years of work by AlbertaSat, a team of undergraduate and graduate students under the supervision of professors from the University of Alberta.

CubeSat Ex-Alta 1

Mosaic showing the members of the AlbertaSat team and the various steps involved in building the Ex-Alta 1 CubeSat. (Credits: Collin Cupido, Charles Nokes and John Ulan, University of Alberta)

The University of Alberta team explains how the Ex-Alta 1 CubeSat was built and its mission objective. (Credit: University of Alberta)

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